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Wilson planners anticipate more cellphone tower requests

Jared Felkins jfelkins@lebanondemocrat.com • Dec 15, 2015 at 1:47 PM

With a lawsuit pending against Wilson County over denying a cellphone tower in the Possumtown community, the Wilson County Planning Commission on Friday anticipates even more requests for tower approvals next month.

“It looks like it's going to be a Christmas present,” county attorney Mike Jennings said.

At the end of Friday’s meeting, Georgia Baine with the Planning Commission said the group should expect to review between four and nine cellphone tower applications from AT&T at its December meeting. Jennings said one application is for a tower to go on the roof at the Mt. Juliet Public Library.

Jennings said a lawsuit filed by American Tower Corp. against Wilson County remained pending after it was filed 10 months ago. Attorneys for the project, to be built by American Tower Corp. for AT&T, had the item placed on the commission agenda to request approval for a utility lot on the Ned Littel property in Possumtown. Wilson County Planning Director Tom Brashear recommend the commission deny the request, without prejudice.

In July, Commissioner Jerry McFarland, who represents the residents of Possumtown, addressed the planning commission and voiced his opposition to the project. He said he had spoken "in-depth" with Wilson County Mayor Randall Hutto about the planned cell tower and determined there are already 52 cell towers in Wilson County, more than enough to ensure cell coverage. He also said he and Hutto had discussed the possible health ramifications of having a cell tower so close to students at nearby Friendship Christian School.

"Other towers are more than a mile from any school," McFarland said at the time, adding he didn't feel comfortable with a tower "2,300 feet from the front door of a school, 1,400 feet from the back door and close to athletic fields."

He also said at the July meeting there is litigation pending in federal court with the lawyers for the cell tower suing local commissions for not approving the plan immediately.

When commissioners voted in July, Brashear told them he had to recommend the request be denied, because there was no approved utility use for the lot in question. He said at the time he expected attorneys for the cell tower project would resubmit the request.

At Friday’s meeting Brashear told the commission about a unique annexation previously approved by the state General Assembly. He said the transfer of property would take effect Jan. 1.

The commission approved the rezoning request for nine parcels in the 3000 block of Darrington Way and two parcels in the 2700 block of Leesa Ann Lane to be rezoned suburban residential. The commission also approved eight properties in the 2400 and 3400 blocks of Stewarts Ferry Pike be rezoned rural residential.

The properties are currently in Davidson County.

“Effectively they are part of Wilson County even though they are currently in Davidson County,” Brashear said. “They don't get to vote in Wilson County, but all of their services and utilities come through Wilson County.”

Brashear said the rezoning requests would be treated as such even though they are annexations and would move on to have a public hearing scheduled before going to the Wilson County Commission for final approval. 

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